TOMS RIVER, NJ - A Board of Education member in the Ocean County town of Toms River is refusing to resign after several of his social media posts were denouced “anti-muslim.”
On April 12 Daniel Patrick Leonard shared a Facebook post about Congresswoman Ilhan Abdullahi Omar and added a comment referring to the Minnesota lawmaker as a “terrorist…. 100 %.” On April 19 Leonard shared a Facebook post from Fox News about Rashida Tlaib who represents Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, saying that his life would be complete if they/she die.”
The final post, a meme of a Barbie doll wearing a hijab, with bruises on her face, came on April 28.
Calling the posts “bigoted, hateful and threatening,” James Sues, executive director of the New Jersey Chapters on the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NJ), said in a statement that Leonard should be disqualified “for any position that has responsibility for the safety, security and well-being of New Jersey’s diverse student body.”
"The bigoted views expressed by Mr. Leonard have no place in an educational system that seeks to celebrate diversity and encourage students of all faiths and backgrounds to excel scholastically and to make positive contributions to our society, Sues continued. This is just a painful reminder of the extreme divisiveness that characterizes the current political climate at the national level.”
In a biography posted on the Board of Education’s website Leonard, first elected to the position in 2016, says that his “personal and professional life are enhanced by a proud history of service to his country.” He retired from the United States Army in 2018 as “a decorated combat veteran of the Afghanistan War with more than 23 years of dedicated service.”
Leonard declared in an email to TAPinto that he will not resign and pushed back on CAIR-NJ saying the organization which describes its mission as one to “enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims,” supports terror organizations and Sharia Law.
“It’s no shock they would put their crosshairs on the First Amendment Rights Of a Decorated Combat Veteran who has fought to protect Islamic people from oppressive and radical fundamentalist regimes,” Leonard added.
“I’ll say it again - If you want to go on a faux politically motivated hunger strike to get media attention while real American children and families go Hungry day in and day out ...... Why should I be concerned or surprised if you die as a result? I mean Dan Leonard manages to grab the Headlines with a full belly!”
Leonard concluded his email by saying that “there is a difference between being Anti-Muslim and Anti-Sharia Law,” and he is the latter “as should every United States Citizen!”
While stopping short of calling for a resignation the New Jersey School Boards Association, in a statement from Frank Belluscio, the organization’s director of communications, called Leonard’s posts “reprehensible.”
“The content of the posts does not reflect the values and beliefs of the New Jersey School Boards Association,” Belluscio said, referring to Leonard as one of 58 members of the Board of Directors of the NJSBA.
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